NaNoWriMo’s here again. All over the country, writers are banging away at keyboards, or scribbling words in a script that may well prove illegible when the editing stage is reached. I really admire the dedication of these amazing people, their ability to shut out the world for days at a time, while they concentrate on getting that first draft down, as speedily as possible.

Please forgive me when I say I can’t do that. My head refuses. My mind insists on lingering over a poor sentence, whereas the brave NaNo people know they can edit the whole thing later. Who’s going to judge that first draft anyway?

I suppose I’m a bit like the tortoise in the old fable. The hare streaks past. I plod on. I think the important thing is that we both finish, and that we’re both prepared to reread our work with an open mind, knowing that however long the first draft takes, the book is not yet finished. The vitally important bit is yet to come. Editing.

Julian Gough, writer of ‘serious novels disguised as funny novels’, recently wrote in The Stinging Fly:

“You don’t need to learn how to write, you need to learn how to edit. But then, editing is writing; writing is editing. The separation of the two is FAKE NEWS.”

Julian Gough’s essay on editing is well worth reading. It can be found at 

Good luck to all NaNoWriMo participants, and to all fellow tortoises.


Frog: (Outraged)

Hares? Tortoises? What about frogs?

Have you no respect?

Are you trying to edit me out?